Telling War Stories

The Civil War and the meaning of life.

Drew Gilpin Faust

On a hot Saturday in September 1962, I crowded with my brothers and cousins into my aunt and uncle’s station wagon and drove off to war. Passing through our county in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, we headed toward Charles Town, West Virginia, then crossed over the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers at Harpers Ferry into Maryland. We had traveled through the familiar historic landscape of Stonewall Jackson’s skirmishes, Mosby’s raids, Sheridan’s ride, and John Brown’s capture and hanging to witness the centennial re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam. Our route was not very different from the one Jackson and A.P. Hill and their troops had followed to arrive from Harpers Ferry for their critical roles in the battle. But we had a better idea of what to expect.

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